back to article Twitter bomb threat joke man faces possible jail sentence

A Twitter user who posted a "joke" bomb threat against a UK airport could be jailed after pleading guilty to sending a menacing message. Paul Chambers, 26, of Balby, Doncaster, admitted posting an ill-considered message onto Twitter about Robin Hood Airport, South Yorkshire, on 6 January after the airport closed as a result of …

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  1. bluest.one
    Big Brother

    Tinpot Dictators

    What's the use of having authority and power if you can't exercise it?

    If there aren't enough jihadists running around, what better way to feel powerful than to deliberately and purposefully misconstrue the seriousness of a throwaway joke and pound down hard on a soft target.

    Get's the testosterone flowing, so it does! Almost as good as sex!

    Flashmob retweet, anyone? Or are we all too scared? (I am)

    Remind me, who are the terrorists again?

  2. Michael
    FAIL

    seriously?

    title says it all.

    Why would anyone take that seriously?

  3. Robert Grant
    FAIL

    Fail fail fail fail fail

    Fail fail fail fail fail.

  4. David Arno
    WTF?

    WTF?

    Insane story.

    Considered using the hand grenade icon but some idiot police office might interpret it as me sending a menacing message

  5. Lionel Baden
    WTF?

    suspended from work !

    Jeez thats a bit harsh .......

    Sounds like they're jumping on the bandwagon, Bash him makes us look so so moral ....

    *Unless he works at the airport ..

    but then i doubt he would be bitchin about snow :D

  6. AndyS
    Unhappy

    For real?

    People. Judges. Police. Politicians. Listen up. It's called a joke. You don't have to laugh, you don't even have to find it funny. But you don't have to go locking people up either.

  7. M Gale
    Grenade

    Lolwut?

    Prison? The guy's a twit, not a terrorist. As far as I'm aware, the fuckwits who became one with the WTC didn't exactly phone ahead with their plans, did they?

    Bloody hysteria.

  8. Craig 12

    Madness

    Madness - that is all that can be said. Have any of the intervening police/court workers got nothing better to do?

    Abusing laws should itself be against the law. As for wasting police time, seems they can manage that themselves...

    1. No, I will not fix your computer
      Thumb Up

      Ahhh....

      But Eric Harris did before the Columbine massacre (and numerous other singleton killers did similar things).

      "Chatter", some of which can be very specific, general or even obtuse will usualy precede an actual event, Bush had a daily breifing on Aug 6th 2001 "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US", Bin Laden also held a press conference in 1998 laying out details of his fatwa giving very specific details, the US embassy had anonymous phone calls mid May 2001, so yes "the fuckwits who became one with the WTC didn't exactly phone ahead with their plans, did they?"

      All that said, it's paranoia, not hysteria, it looks like a very measured, calm over-reaction to a bad joke, the reason why humans are paranoid is the same reason that humans are superstitious, it's an evoultionary safety net.

      The powers that be will always over-react, and under-react sometimes, but they won't get the publicity that appropriate reaction gets.

  9. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!
    FAIL

    South Yorkshire Police

    Are great. Make a fairly obvious tongue-in-cheek comment on Twitter (the stupidity of said message notwithstanding) and they're right on you, confiscating your laptop and cellphone and ready to throw away the key.

    Have a recurring problem with assholes throwing bricks (and traffic cones last night) at your window, trashing the stuff outside your house and threatening the wife at the same time (within a half hour) every night, and they're nowhere to be seen (6 crime reference numbers in the last 12 days and counting...). At least I can rest assured, whilst the builders' portaloo is trashed yet again, whilst bricks come sailing through the air, that the police are keeping the world safe from people making stupid comments on the net. Hurrah.

  10. Si 1
    FAIL

    What a waste of tax payers money

    Hey let's prosecute someone for making a joke, even though the prisons are all full and there are plenty of real criminals who should be behind bars. It seems the police are so incapable of catching real crooks these days they're willing to go after people who make bad jokes. How many real terrorists have they actually caught anyway?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Police Response Times

      We have a saying in Barnsley (south yorkshire) where a Pizza / Kebab etc delivery gets to you quicker that the Police.

      1. Ihre Papiere Bitte!!
        Unhappy

        severity

        I'm sure it depends on the severity of the call for the kebab vs rozzer race. We need to experiment... For a mugging, damage to property, assault, or anything that involves them having to do anything, my money's on the greasy meat (clarification: I mean the kebab by that...). If it's a call about someone taking photos in a built-up area whilst under the influence of excessive tallness, I'm sure the boys in blue would do us proud.

    2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      None

      Because if they really think he's a real terrorist, they shoot him dead before asking if he's not perchance a plumber.

  11. Ball boy

    OTT reaction?

    Okay, so it wasn't clever thing to do. Perhaps it was foolish - but there again, clever people end up taking countries into war so maybe foolish is better for the sake of humanity in general.

    However, he's lost his job over this. Unless he was a security officer, judge or someone who is generally be trusted by others to 'act responsibly', I don't see what his job has to do with this. Say I'm a software engineer - what's it got to do with my employer if I got nicked flashing my bits at The Oval? I'm an 'invisible' employee and it has no impact on my work.

    So, he caused no undue disturbance - that means no one took him seriously yet the weight of the law means that a custodial might follow? Anyone care to explain why?

    They took his PC, iPhone, etc. Gawd help him if they find so much as a _hint_ he's ever looked at pron or anything else (26 year old man? It's a racing certainty there's something on there that breaks someone's moral code).

    I've always worked on the premise that Brits are generally able to distinguish bad comedy from serious comment - what else could possibly explain Roy 'Chubby' Brown's existence - but events like this suggest a rethink is in order.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    *smacks forehead*

    ...for the Love of God...!

    Just in: Exasperated man's twitter post becomes criminal offence..

    I'm sure we've all been there, or am I the only one that thinks this is going towards the Thought-Police...?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't

    Don't Mess with Football!

  14. dave 81
    Flame

    The lunatics are running the asylum

    <Rant>

    How many more of these stories of the police completely overstepping the mark enforcing stupid laws are we going to take? Tough on non-crimes while the real criminals are let out early to re-offend? Thanks to Tony and Gordon, the police are more interested in chasing stupid arbitrary targets that solving actual crime, and serving the public who pays their wages.

    Personally, I am sick of it. My MP being a snivelling Nulabour see you next Tuesday only represents his party to me instead of representing my views to parliament. Hopefully the next lot will actually listen to voters and rein back this authoritarian fascist police force.

    </Rant>

    I feel better now.

  15. Greg D
    FAIL

    honestly, how ridiculous

    The terrorists have won. Plain and simple. If we can do that to an englishman after a twitter post, then what is left for free speech?

    I mean, lets look at this from a pretend scenario... you are an actual terrorist, who wants to blow up this randomly named airport. Why would you ever consider posting this fact on twitter?

    Yes he's a bit of an arse for doing it - but banned from the airport for life? Jail sentence? Suspended from work?? Really? I mean is that absolutely necessary? I will admit I've said stuff like this before on many occasions, but I'd definitely think twice before putting it anywhere on Web2.0. Where were the police spies then?

    There are more deserving people worthy of a jail sentence. Just go out around London on a weekend. Half the drunks you meet should be banged up but always get away with it

    Far as I'm concerned, this is a massive waste of time and money and has very well ruined this guys life. All because we let the terrorists win.

  16. Valerion
    FAIL

    Ah good

    The streets, and airports, are now safe.

    Bonuses all round, chaps. I'll sleep easier tonight for sure.

  17. Seanmon
    Black Helicopters

    Jee-sus.

    Yeah, allright, the guy's been a bit of a donkey. But still - fecking hell!

    Helicopters or BB....?

  18. Jolyon Ralph
    Grenade

    banned from an airport named after a criminal!

    While I agree in general with the idea of sending annoying twitter tits to jail, it does seem a bit excessive in this case.

  19. Seven_Spades
    Thumb Down

    Why plead not guilty?

    I cannot understand why this man pleaded guilty to this.

    It was quite clear that this was not a serious comment and therefore could not possibly be ".grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character"

    I lament at people who buckle under in these circumstances as it allows the authorities to set a very low bar.

  20. criscros
    FAIL

    epic fail

    If he were a real terrorist he'd DEFINITELY be talking about it on twitter, no doubt. That's what real terrorists do, of course!

  21. Andrew_F
    Stop

    Title

    Surely a moron in a hurry wouldn't mistake that for actual menace, even of the Dennis kind.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    This is called ...

    Thought Control.

    To have you policing your own opinions, and thoughts, and thereby adopting a deep seated defensive, intimidated posture towards government - while the powerful use anti-terror to increase their private wealth, and exercise their social predjudices.

    If there's a Pledge to support this guy, I'm in for 100 quid.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      because

      Someone may have told him that it wouldn't be all that serious if he just admitted it, and having seen American cop shows he believed them.

    2. Mr Young
      Thumb Up

      I can make a guess with the understand?

      Maybe if he pled not guilty they'd make an even bigger example of him? After it's been established the silly tweeting twat is no threat (which I'd bet on) he should be sent on his way. It does seem totally unnecessary to ruin his life!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Perhaps ill considered but

    What a seriously sad state this country is in if it's come to this. The filth and friends seem far more obsessed with being seen to be doing something, rather than actually doing something useful. The real tragedy is that they no longer seem to know the difference. A stiff chat with the bloke would seem to be quite enough, if even necessary. Doubtless some pompous little arse thinks he's "sending a message", although anyone who is prone to this sort of thing would miss it in any case.

    Do none of these exalted officials ever try looking from the outside in and see what a waste of space they collectively look?

  24. David Edwards
    Stop

    Arrest Morrisey

    I have reason to believe he intends to burn down a disco and may well try to hang the DJ

  25. Alastair Rae
    Alert

    Argh

    I thought you Brits were famous for your sense of humour and your common sense. When did you lose them?

  26. Daniel Bennett
    Thumb Up

    Just tweeted

    I just tweeted the exact tweet.

    Awaiting to be arrested x

    1. dave 81
      Unhappy

      When people began to vote for NuLiebour

      Tony and Gord created a climate of fear to pass their commie laws and taxes. And it worked. The British public were duped and just let it happen, and voted them in two more times.

      Sadly there is still no shortage of those willing to vote for them, most out of ignorance, some out of spite, and the rest because they can't stand the Tories.

      Democracy is dead. Long live democracy!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Well...

      ... it all started around May 1997, when our desperation to get rid of the tories got the better of us. After that; just plain downhill.

    3. Alfie Noakes

      Hope i got the right Daniel Bennett, but...

      "This person has protected their tweets."

      Coward ;-)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Fail writ large.

    I also like the "has been banned from Robin Hood Airport for life". Irony applied with a hot iron. Honestly, getting hit worse for a (very publicised) failure of judgement over a travel annoyance than many a hardened repeat offending criminal for what they do out of sheer bloody mindedness seems a tad unfair. It also shows oh so very clearly the terrorist panic is still in full swing with both the airports and the justice system, robbing them of their common sense.

    I'd say, have the man publicly retract his tweet and apologise for alarm caused. Then have the airport and the CPS retract the bans and sentences and have them publicly apologise for undue harm done. If they don't they let linger thought police allegations they have yet to answer for.

    Both deserve each other's apologies. Other sanctions merely show ``the system'' to be the sore loser (with undue market power), failing its citizenry. Carry on government.

  28. Adam Foxton
    FAIL

    @Various

    Why's he an arse or an idiot or whatever for doing it?

    It's not like he's a public figure, so the only people- if any- following his Twitter page would be his friends and / or family. Have none of you ever said in an idle moment "Damn Firstbus... Seriously, when that bus arrives I'm going to fscking throttle the driver!" or anything similar? By the same token that should get you locked up for threatening this guy's life- even though you've got no intention of killing him? You- and those who hear you say it- know that you'll just jump on the bus when it arrives an hour late, pay your arm and leg and go stand in a puddle of someone elses' dried sick all the way home.

    If he was a public figure or a well known vocal supporter of suicide bombers then fair enough be a bit wary. You've got to wonder who the bloody hell forwarded Robin Hood airport that tweet!

  29. Jim 59

    Jokes

    Agreed - it is madness. A real threat would never be made in the manner of a joke.

  30. Skrrp
    Black Helicopters

    Public domain?

    So, this tweet will have been submitted to the court as evidence. Court records are in the public domain.

    This should make the court guilty of posting "a message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character" to the public domain.

    But it's ok if they do it?

    Also tweeted it myself. Not expecting to be arrested but it would show the insanity that this country has become if anything comes of it.

  31. M H
    FAIL

    Where did the sense of humour go?

    Erm... South Yorkshire Police used to have a sense of humour.. the station next to the Robin Hood Airport is on a road called Letsby Avenue:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2000/feb/12/martinwainwright

    What happened to them since then??

  32. Graham Marsden
    FAIL

    Police confiscated his iPhone, laptop and home computer.

    ... and we can probably shortly expect "smear" charges of him being suspected of having kiddie porn/ extreme porn/ dangerous drawings as well which will serve no other purpose than an attempt to taint his name in the public consciousness in the hope that it will make people think that the authorities were right to grossly over-react...

  33. Mike Cardwell

    Sickening

    It is impossible to interpret what was written as an actual threat. Whoever reported it is an utter c**t, and the people who took the report seriously should be sacked for gross incompetence and staggering ineptitude. W**kers.

  34. heyrick Silver badge

    F**k me, you mean somebody takes Twitter seriously?

    (title says it all)

    Though prison is a bit harsh for a grossly miscalculated "joke". Perhaps they want to be seen to be doing something and it was an easy cop given the digital cookie crumbs led right too him. After all, their success in finding terrorists other ways (strip-scan, anyone?) has been less effective... gotta make the stats look good, and after all, if he didn't intend to blow the place up, he wouldn't have said it...

    (sigh)

  35. Andy Hards
    IT Angle

    For the love of God.

    Complete lack of common sense all round it seems. I work as cabin crew for a well known airline and you get the odd remark. Once I had a man who was a bit pissed off as it was taking a while for him to get a cup of tea so he said, "I bet if I said I had a bomb I'd get a cup of tea quicker." Now this was a stupid thing to say on a plane post 9/11 but I knew he didn't have a bomb, well I didn't know for sure but I was pretty sure he didn't. I said to him though that it was s tupid thing to say and he realised pretty quick that it was a very stupid thing to say. If he had said it at the security gate though he would have been rushed off to a small room and had his bags gone over inch by inch, then he would have been nicked, charged and fined a lot of money and the papers would have reported it and he might have lost his job. They have a total lack of tollerance for those sorts of comments.

    If I had been a moron and wanted to ruin the mans life, I could have done but it would have meant the plane would have been immediately diverted, the man nicked as a suspected terrorist and I would have not got home for my own tea until much much much later so I took the comment for what it was, an idiotic remark from someone who wasn't really thinking what they were saying before they said it.

    So what I'm saying in a round about way is that context and common sense should play a much larger part in instances like these but unfortunately in many cases they are blown out of all proportion to discourage any other know heads from doing and saying the same things.

    My god, what a waste of time, money, prison space, legal fees, etc etc etc

  36. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    In the light of 7/7, how would *you* handle it?

    I'm in two minds about this, on the one hand, in the light of 7/7, I suspect the authorities have to take every potential threat, however ridiculous, as a potential hazard.

    I can imagine the relevant authorities groaning and moaning about having to haul this guy in, but are acting under the strictest protocols - "we cannot afford another 7/7" "No matter how ridiculous the threat appears, we have to take it seriously"

    The guy is an idiot for posting what he did. Some things you just *don't* joke about publicly - whether you think it stupid or not, it's obvious the authorities can't ignore a threat, no matter how innocuous it may seem...

    would you want to call the relatives of the victims of another 7/7 ?

    would you want to explain to the country "we thought he was just joking?" after he blows himself up in an airport?

    On the other side, I think a possible jail sentence is downright ridiculous - give the guy a fine, a slap on the wrist and send him home.

  37. Ken Hagan Gold badge
    Flame

    Talking of prosecutions...

    Is anyone going to be prosecuted over the huge waste of public money that this represents?

    1. Graham Marsden
      Thumb Down

      How would I handle it...?

      ... Well, first tell me, did the 7/7 bombers or anyone else publically announce exactly what they were going to do before they did it?

      And please, spare us the guilt trip "would you want to call the relatives?" nonsense. Would you want to tell the relatives of someone who'd been knocked down by a drunk driver? Would you want to tell someone they had cancer? Those are much more likely than a) such an attack happening again or b) those intending to carry it out telling everyone about it.

      1. Annihilator
        FAIL

        Warnings

        "Well, first tell me, did the 7/7 bombers or anyone else publically announce exactly what they were going to do before they did it?"

        Indirectly, yes - http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/10/international/europe/10qaeda.html

        Bear in mind that not all terrorists are looking to kill. I'm not so young as to recall that during the times when the IRA etc were active, warnings were often given, such in the case of the Manchester bombing and the Docklands bombing.

        If nothing else, you can charge him with wasting police time, as buy most people's admission the police have had to assess the credibility of the threat.

      2. No, I will not fix your computer
        Grenade

        Yes....

        Sheik Omar Bakri Muhammad announced that "Al Qaeda Europe", was on the verge of launching a big operation, the US also had "intel that a tube bombing was going to take place", the Mossad office in London got a warning six minutes before the first bomb went off.

        In addition to these documented actual warnings MI5 had their eye on one of the bombers and there are unconfirmed reports about other warnings.

        Perhaps if MI5 "over reacted", detained and interogated Mohammad Sidique Khan rather than ignoring him when they had suspicions then 7/7 may not have happened?

        So yes, imagine there is one specific person respobsible for ignoring Mohammad Sidique Khan, what would he say to the families of the 50+ dead, maybe the person who read the twitter joke thought "if this has any truth then I better act or people could die" if it's just a joke then one man will suffer for being a twat, looks like a joke to me but I'm not going to take any responsibility for people dying.

    2. Mark 65 Silver badge
      FAIL

      Get real

      Wind your neck in and stop pandering to this New Labour pc security hysteria bullshit.

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